Sport Management Business Essay

Sport management is a young field that is built on a foundation of business and other professional fields. The discourse of sport management is the same vocabulary as other professional fields. Its history is not very extensive, and the curriculum is still very young. Although the field is young, there are great resources available to advance the curriculum. The ability to manage a staff and effectively communicate to the staff is crucial to the success of a sport administrator. And while APA is the citing resource for sport management, MLA is one of the other citing resources that are very common in professional and educational settings.

Overall, sport management is an emerging field that will flourish in the future. Discourse of Sport and Recreation Management

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When engaged in conversation with another human being, it is important to listen and follow along with the conversation. It is also keen to speak with proper tone and the appropriate language of the topic discussed.

Language of a discussion is referred to as discourse. Copley said it best when describing discourse: “Imagine someone new to sports initiating a conversation with long-time sports fans: ‘So what do you think the Raiders will wear in their next game? (Copley, 2006)” This is better than any definition that a dictionary could ever provide simply because her discourse is easily understood by the readers of the document. Sports management is one of the highest requested majors for incoming freshman in the United States (Mahoney, 2008). While the degree is one of the highest requested majors, it is also one of the most understaffed and underappreciated by universities around the nation (Mahoney, 2008). The discourse, or discourses for sports management are very broad and are interdisciplinary with other fields of study. These fields include law, business, physical education, communications, and psychology. Throughout the paper, these fields of study will be discussed in correlation with sports management; along with their purpose in academia.

The first and most important topic of discussion in sports management is business. Business is a strong cornerstone in sports management, as the word management is quite often associated with training and facilitating in business. The business aspects of sports management consist of marketing, and management, with specific focus on individuals, teams, facilities, and organizations. To start off, there are the two main ways to market sports: First is marketing a product through a sport, and secondly marketing of a sport. Marketing through a sport tends to bring companies a higher revenue then regular advertisements (Gladden & Sutton, 2005). A good example of marketing through sport is Budwesier. They like to market during the football season with beer drinkers (usually young men) playing or enjoying a football game with a fictitious background story, that subsequently features beautiful women, glamorizing drinking, to market the product (Gladden & Sutton, 2005). The best example for marketing of a sport is a television commercial for Monday night football, or Sunday night baseball on ESPN. The network is trying to get people to watch the game, so they in-turn advertise and if the viewer watches the game they have successfully marketed. Generally though, business is all about profits and losses. The numbers don’t lie and they can tell whether a business is doing well or if it is not. Therefore, the unofficial language or discourse of business is accounting (Warren, Reeve & Duchac, 2007). Accounting is the backbone of business because again, the numbers don’t lie. If a business is failing, a balance sheet can tell you why. And from there, a business can make a decision to raise their numbers by making cuts or taking out loans and collecting interest payments from stockholders. Accounting has a language of its own, similar to economics. But a good business man and woman should have a firm, and comprehensive knowledge of accounting to understand the language and concepts of business (Warren, Reeve & Duchac, 2007).

The second comprehensive field in sports management is law. Law is most commonly associated with the rights and wrongs in our American government. However, it also deals with contracts, property, negligence, statutes, and upholds regulations by other companies (Cotten & Wolohan, 2007). The most well known practice of sport law comes in the form of contract negotiations by agents and sports teams. Throughout most of the United States, it is required for sports agents to hold a law degree so that they have a complete grasp of how contract negotiations are supposed to work and ensures they follow all the proper channels that it must go through to become an official contract (Cotten & Wolohan, 2007). It is very important in law, to understand what every sentence or article says because one word can change the complete meaning of a very closely worded law. Therefore, an extensive knowledge of the American language, and numerous legal terms is required to be involved in such practice. Extensive knowledge of the American Constitution is needed for a career in law as well. The Constitution is the first form of precedence in the United States (Cotten & Wolohan, 2007). If a law can be traced back to the constitution, it is a powerful tool and a great advantage to have over your legal opponent.

The third major discourse of sports management is kinesiology, better known as physical education. It is a good thing to know how the human body works and what makes it function properly. It is also good know how it reacts under stress, and how it works at rest. Sports management and kinesiology are at first often confused for the same thing; when in fact, they two completely different fields. Practical use of kinesiologic discourse is mainly used marketing and in media relations. In marketing, a company might say “improve your vertical leap by training your fast twitch muscles.” This would be a correct statement and would directly correlate to the discourse of kinesiology as fast twitch muscle control sudden quick movements such as jumping as high as you can (Jeukendrup & Gleeson, 2004). Of course, if no one knew what a fast twitch muscle was they probably would not be interested. In an instance like that, a consumer would probably be more inclined to purchase because they recognize the scientific word used in the advertisement (Duncan, 2005). In media relations, terms of kinesiology are used less frequently and come from more of a medical standpoint for example if an athlete was injured in a game (Nichols, Moynahan, Hall, & Taylor, 2002. “Brett Favre suffered a pulled hamstring yesterday in practice. Brett said ‘it was a little tender after it happened, but the doctor said it was minor enough so I could play Sunday.” Obviously, this is a general discourse statement. But, it is related to kinesiology because you need to have an understanding of where the hamstring is located on the body and what happens to the muscle when it is pulled (Jeukendrup & Gleeson, 2004). Again, Kinesiology is not nearly as closely related as sports management as people believe and as shown so far, does not scratch the surface what the heart and soul of sports management really is (Mahoney, 2008).

Fourth, related field of sports management is communications. Communications play an integral part in collegiate and professional athletics (Nichols et al. 2002) as most organizations have multiple staff members who market and publicize their respective university or team. These people are often referred to as Sports Information Directors. Their job duties, in most cases, are as follows: Writing press releases about or for organizational events and athletes, taking statistics of athletic events, statistical research, designing school athletic brochures, writing and publishing media guides, web publishing, and grammatical editing (Nichols et al. 2002). Sports Information Directors, like most people who work in communications for a company have certain ethical obligations like always writing positive about the university that they represent. The basic guidelines are as follows: Honesty, truthfulness, respect, compassion, fairness, accuracy, professional distance, and ethical models (Nichols et al. 2002). At the same time, these writers need to find a way to entertain in their press releases so that fans and consumers will read their writing. Often, the directors use common slang terms that the average sport fan would understand in their writing. For example, if a press release says “Jean-Sébastien Giguère played great between the pipes tonight, saving all 31 shots for the shutout,” this would easily be translated by a sports fan as “Giguère played great in front of the goal, as he stopped all of the opponent’s shots to win the game tonight.” The slang terms allow the reader to engage with the release; and if the reader was not at the game, they could recapture a sense of the excitement that took place during the game (Nichols et al. 2002). As most people see athletes getting in trouble off the field, naturally damage control is a current trend in professional athletics. The directors want to minimize harm to the athlete’s image and to the organizations reputation. When it comes time to write a press release or release a statement at a press conference about the situation, it is of the utmost importance that “hot” words or catch phrases are not included in the statement (Nichols et al. 2002). Any words that would allude to any wrong doing are never good for other reporters to hear. Like a profession in law, sports information directors need an extensive knowledge of grammar and language as their job relies heavily on writing.

Finally, sports management deals in psychology. If the common nomenclature says that “playing a sport is twenty percent physical, and eighty percent mental,” then sports psychology will prove that. Life is what you perceive it to be, and the same can be applied to sport (Plotnik, 2005). If someone believes that they are performing badly, then they probably are performing badly. The discourse of the field is no different than that of a regular discussion about psychology. The main trend that seems to follow in sports psychology however, is motivation. If a person has a hard time working out, why is it that they do not want to work out? Are they self-conscious? Are they just that lazy? Or is that they are not physically able? Sports psychology applies the principals of psychology to sport, and hence psychology of sport is born (Plotnik, 2005). Sport psychology does apply its own kind twist however. As in most cases discussed in the textbook, the questions are more directed towards how you could remedy any psychological situations, as a manager or a coach would do; a standpoint towards the reader that they are always in control of their destiny.

The proverbial cookie jar that is sports management is a big jar that is filled with all different varieties of “cookies” that do have a similar taste at times, but are unique in their own way. Business of course being the most popular choice or widely used discourse as all business conducted will always rely on numbers to provide the evidence. Sports law is a least popular variety that no one can escape, because someone will always need someone to talk for them to get more money or to get them out of trouble. Kinesiology is a standard choice, “the chocolate chip” of discourse as sport is in the title of sports management. However, at the end of the day, is a completely different field of study. Communications is the underground of sports management that keeps the wheels spinning and allows people that were not at the game to experience the excitement. While psychology is everything in the field: Being able to understand situations that may arise and the motivation to do things for the betterment of a team or individually. Instead of focusing on one specific area of discourse, it is clearly beneficial to have a broad understanding of all the discourses in sports management. It is a big broad business, and its foundations are deep.

Albert Spalding to Earle Ziegler: Foundations of Sport Management

Since the beginning of civilization, it has been in the nature of humans to compete with another. In ancient Greece, the citizens trained in gymnasiums or “naked places” to perfect their wrestling or boxing technique (Sweet, 1987). “Athletics were more important to the Greeks than us today” according to Sweet; like the current American society, cheating was looked down upon in ancient times. Cheating was looked at as sacrilegious; a disgrace to Zeus (Sweet, 1987). Today cheating is not looked at as a sacrilegious act to a god, but as a shameful act of cheating. Today there are entities in place that ensure all athletes have the same competitive advantage. The act of managing sport can level a playing field, negotiate a salary, relocate an athlete, advise an organization, run a facility, or teach others the topics in sport management in a college setting. The modern field of sport management is a fairly young field that is constantly adapting to the demands required. The curriculum of sport management also adheres to the same principles of business, but is even younger than the practice of sport management. Through history, sport and sport management has shown its progressive tendencies and ideals that were ahead of common American society at the turn of the 20th century. This leads to the five significant events and the influential minds behind the events in sport management, which will be the topic of this paper. They are certainly not all the people and events that had significant contribution, but simply the top five that are deemed worthy for this assignment.

Thoroughbred Racing

Since history is usually placed in chronological order, the trend continues today. Thoroughbred horse racing was a very popular sport in eighteenth century England; along with baseball, cricket, and field hockey (Masteralexis, Barr, & Hums, 2005). Positions of political and social power were appointed to men with wealth; most of those positions being horse owners, track or club owners, and other various supervision roles. Each club in the given area had its own set of rules, which were created by the owner; sometimes even to work in his own favor. Complications often arose when a rider from one track would race at another as rules varied (Masteralexis, Barr, & Hums, 2005). And by the 1830’s with the innovation of railroads, horse owners wanted to compete nationally to increase profits, and breed with new horses to create faster horses. Naturally a new management style was needed, but this was only the first complication of two. The second was gambling.

Gambling was a very popular event amongst the upper and lower classes at the track. The lower class was then able to wager bets at the track with the upper class because club/track owners did not charge admission to the event. The track was a social setting in which a diverse group of people intermingled for a common purpose; whereas a member of the upper and lower class would hardly be seen in the same place, sharing a common purpose (Masteralexis, Barr, & Hums, 2005). The gambling itself took place during the race, which was a four-mile course broken up into three legs. The winner would have to win at least two out of the three races. If the fans of the race suspected the jockey of throwing a race, the jockey would often be physically abused by the fans (Masteralexis, Barr, & Hums, 2005). It was not very common for unethical behavior to take place when bets were made, but they did occur and were dealt with promptly. Sometime after the 1830’s, there became a standardized management system in horse racing which forced club/track owners to standardized lengths of the course, forced the track to time the events, and even spawned a new style of horse racing: Thoroughbred racing with weights added to the horses (Masteralexis, Barr, & Hums, 2005). In gambling, a standardized system was also adopted as club owners started handicapping the races, ran a sweepstakes race and even started to offer tip sheets to the customers at the events. These strategical changes are viewed as the first managerial changes in club sport; while also being viewed as the successful model for club sports, which ruled the eighteenth century in the forms of boxing, cricket, rugby and soccer (Masteralexis, Barr, & Hums, 2005). The club sport system still exists today, although it does not thrive as it once did in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. But these clubs set a precedent that would contribute to the next innovator in the sport management profession.

William Hulbert and the National League

As stated in the previous section, club teams were the dominate structure for athletic teams in the nineteenth century. Baseball was no different. Most teams were around and had a small fan base, but most teams were never able to play a whole season, or keep fan interest for a whole season because of lack of funding. It was not uncommon for teams to just quit halfway through the season. The most popular team of the 1860’s was the Cincinatti Red Stockings who toured the east to play teams and because of their fan base, were able to pay for travel expenses and earn a profit while playing on the road (Masteralexis, Barr, & Hums, 2005). On a road trip at the end of 1870 season the Red Stocking lost the three games of the season, and because of that were no longer considered the champions of baseball. The fan base for the club fell drastically and the team disbanded before the beginning of the following season (Masteralexis, Barr, & Hums, 2005). In 1871, after such hard times, remaining teams formed a union; a new league called the National Association of Professional Baseball Players. Unfortunatly, the beginning results were no different than that of their predecessors in the club system as teams would form, stop playing halfway through the season, and perhaps start operations the next season. After years of trying to gain credibility and reach stability in the league, an entrepreneur by the name of William Hulbert purchased the National League of Professional Baseball Players in 1876 and was often referred to as the National League from then on (Masteralexis, Barr, & Hums, 2005).

Hulbert made sure that all business aspects were in the open and not conducted behind closed doors as to ensure an honest means of doing business. He also set guidelines for the eight teams to follow: he was going to make sure that the league would not crumble because of one team’s financial irresponsibility. All teams were accountable for each other, or the league would fail. Hulbert made many decisions for the league. On one occasion, Hulbert canceled the final series between Philadelphia and New York as both teams were struggling and their outcome would not have affected league standings (Crosset & Hums, 2005). By doing this, he allowed the teams to shut down the operations so the team would save money for the next season and not hinder future operations. Ethics and citizenship were staple points in Hulbert’s National League as well, forcing teams to set curfews for the athletes and enforcing strict policies that meant banning players for life if they were gambling, for example. Hulbert’s precedent still stands today, as over 100 years later, Pete Rose was banned from ever stepping foot into a baseball park because of gambling allegations. He also made sure that the fans were proper citizens as well; raising ticket prices to keep rowdier, lower-class fans out and not allowing alcohol to be sold in the ball park. However, the “revolutionary idea,” according to Crosset and Hums, was the implementation of a pennant race at the end of the season. The two top teams at the end of the season would play a series for the pennant, better known as the National League Championship. Hulbert also protected teams from losing their players, as players under contract were not allowed to negotiate or be bought out by other teams without both parties being aware of it. The “player’s reservation” system was a precedent in sport management, and is still a foundation in modern sport management. After some success with the league, local newspapers started to cover the games; giving updates on injuries, interviewing players, keeping track of statistics and reporting other coaching strategies to keep the fans interested. This also opened a new element for sports as fans who could not afford to attend games and only followed by word of mouth. The media coverage allowed fans to follow keep track of the games played and re-enact the game through the written stories. The precedents set by Hulbert were truly astronomical; building foundations that still stand in baseball today. His demands for class and integrity are considered sacred to the game of baseball and were followed for years; which is why steroids have been such a paramount concern in baseball for the past couple of years. For his actions he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995 as a pioneer of the game.

Albert Spalding

While William Hulbert was a great innovator himself, accomplishing many feats, he was not alone in the formation of the new National League. Albert Spalding was a pitcher for the Boston Red Stockings, who subsequently were members of the National League of Professional Baseball Players. Spalding was a major celebrity of the game, winning 241 games, and losing only 60 between 1871 and 1876 (Lampster, 2006). An innovator himself, Spalding pitched with his own signature designed baseball. After leading the Red Stockings to the first National League Championship in 1876, he decided to create his own company named simply after himself. That same year, Spalding was the official baseball of the National League, and baseballs were sold to the general public; therefore, becoming the first sporting good company in America (Lampster, 2006). The year 1877 proved to be Spalding’s last season as a professional ballplayer. He then focused solely on managing his company and the Chicago White Stockings as their team president. After managing, he became an international promoter of baseball, spreading the game around the world in 1888. In 1887, he created and manufactured the first American football. And in 1894, he created the first basketball. Spalding was a true innovator and strived to set precedent like Hulbert. Spalding and Hulbert fed off of each others innovations and cleverly marketed each other through each others company (Lampert, 2006).

Sport Management as an Academic Field

Almost 100 years has passed since the wrinkle in time that was the beginning of professional baseball. The time was the 1960’s, Major League Baseball was a prevalent organization, Albert Spalding had already been inducted into the baseball hall of fame, and the “sports industry was thriving” (Crosset & Hums, 2005). According to Crosset and Hums, two men discussed the idea of a sport management curriculum in 1957; a physical educator from the University of Miami, James G. Mason, and owner of the then Brooklyn Dodgers, George O’Malley. O’Malley is most recognized as the chief legal counsel for Jacky Robinson when he broke the color barrier in 1947 and for moving the Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles. Mason and O’Malley decided that in order to keep up with the demand in the sports industry, a professional degree needed to be created to accommodate this need. In 1966, O’Malley and Mason started the first Sport Management graduate program at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. The idea of a sport management degree caught on soon thereafter as Biscayne College and St. John’s University founded the first undergraduate programs in the United States (Crosset & Hums, 2005). The University of Massachusetts-Amherst followed in Ohio’s footsteps, offering the second graduate program in the U.S. in 1971. As the field grew, unions of teachers started to form; most of which were short lived. Today’s dominant sport management scholarly union is the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM). Sport Management is one of the most highly sought after degrees by incoming freshman at the University of Louisville (Mahoney, 2008). With massive growth however, teachers are in high demand and there are not enough people to teach the high volume of students and conduct new research to progress the field in a brand new direction. The next paragraph focuses on a man who changed the field of sport management forever. This dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada implemented his own curriculum; his name is Dr. Earle F. Ziegler.

Dr. Z.

According to the official Earle F. Ziegler website, Ziegler got his start in education at Yale University where he taught physical education and coached football and wrestling from 1943 to 1949. He began working for the University of Western Ontario in 1949 as a part-time German instructor. Shortly thereafter, he became the department head for Physical, Health, & Recreation for the university. At the University of Michigan, Ziegler began his research for physical education and how to manage it effectively. He then conducted research at the University of Illinois, and then went back to the University of Western Ontario. After years of solely researching in the field of physical education, Ziegler intertwined physical education with other topics such as philosophy and administrative theory. In 1975, the year Ziegler returned to Western Ontario, he released six publications on various topics branching physical education out. An acquired copy of “Management Competency Development in Sport and Physical Education” written by Dr. Ziegler in 1983 is an interesting read. Ziegler explains throughout the opening chapter the different types and amounts of research he did to write his book. He opened the book with four chapters about management theories and the emerging field of study. He then presented a strategic plan on how to implement management into sport. It is hard to comprehend that this had never been done before. Dr. Ziegler was in the field conducting research on different topics and drawing parallels between the two. There were degree programs before this at universities around the country, but Ziegler created an entirely new school of thought with the publications that he wrote; inspiring young professionals to think proactively and engage themselves in theory. Most of the topics discussed today in sport management courses are based off of his research and those who followed in his footsteps. Ideals that a person would just take for granted now were accomplished for the first time 25 years ago by an old man from New York City. Ziegler, in fact, was the first president of NASSM, and because of his contributions to the field was honored with an award in his name in 1988. This award is given out annually to the educator in the sport management field making positive contributions in research and education sport management.


As clearly shown throughout the paper, the field of sport management shares a rich history like other fields of academia, even at its young existence. The models of conformity in club horse racing would open the door for the brand new league system created by William Hulbert. And without the newly renovated National League, Spalding would not have marketed his new product, as well with Hulbert. As the field slowly grew and innovation lay dormant for sometime, that opened the door for O’Malley and Mason to create a brand new field of study to feed their vision of enhancing the field of sport management. And finally without Earle Ziegler, sport management would not be flourishing the way it is today without his teachings and theories. Again, he opened a new doorway for students to walk through. Teaching his knowledge and inspiring students then, who are the administrators of today. The interesting thing throughout the paper is the progressiveness of society through sporting events in history: The intermingling of upper and lower classes at horse tracks, the introduction of baseball throughout the world, and O’Malley breaking down the color barrier by signing Jacky Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Although there may have been some differences between some, athletics has set a standard for breaking down sociological barriers between class and color. These are the five significant events and the influential minds behind the events in sport management; they are certainly not all the people and events that had significant contribution for today’s sport management, but simply the catalysts for change and progression.

Resources for Sport Management

Socrates once stated “No one person knows everything, but everyone knows something.” Socrates was implying that by engaging in discussion with people from all walks of life, one can learn something new from a person. People were the main resource for Socrates in Ancient Greece as he did not have scholarly journals, or the Internet to work with. It is stated that today is an information age. Information and knowledge are only a click away on the Internet. Wikipedia is a source of information on the Internet, as it is an online encyclopedia. However, true scholars maintain that “It is not a credible source” because anyone can go online and edit the information that is written. That is why it is important to get information from professionals in the field of study in which a person is researching. Sometimes it takes a person to create their own field of study from other related fields to create a new school of thought. Earle Ziegler was the author of many books throughout 1970’s and 1980’s that created the current field of sport management, using concepts of business, physical education and other social sciences. Through Ziegler’s contributions, sport management has found its place in academia across the United States on college campuses. The scholarly journals in sport management feature some of the top minds in the field. A few of these journals will be discussed in this paper; along with their contributions to the field of sport management. These journals will be referred to as “fruits,” as they nourish thought and sustain a desire to learn more about sport management. In turn, the seeds are spread, and more fruit is grown creating more fruit and expanding sport management even further.

Journal of Sport Management

According to the Journal of Sport Management website, the journal was initiated as a biannual publication in 1987 by the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM) and is seen as the organization that progresses the sport management field hosting annual conferences to discuss the topics of sport management, and commending the members on some of the work they did the past year. It is currently edited by Lucie Thibault of Brock University. The journal remained bi-annual until 1992 when it was then released three times a year. In 1996, the Journal of Sport Management became a quarterly journal and it continues that trend today. The journal itself features articles in many different topics: A few of which include management, economics, accounting, governance, tourism and communications. The articles also vary in sport and in level of play; covering issues in high school athletics, all the way to professional sport. Here at the University of Minnesota, Crookston when searching for articles on current topics related to sport management, it is very common to find most of the articles that are listed in the search results are from the Journal of Sport Management. In a personal communication with Dave Rolling, head of Sport and Recreation Management at the University of Minnesota, Crookston on March 10, 2008, “the Journal of Sport Management is the one of the best journals one could use to find topics in sport management.”

Journal of Sport Economics

The Journal of Sport Economics is a quarterly published journal that focuses on the economic issues that are concer

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